ADW.Launcher for Android hands on: attractive and highly customizable, but bloated
Today we're going to look at ADW.Launcher. It's a free download, but there's an 'EX' version that will cost you about $3. It shares a lot of its features with Zeam -- and its looks are somewhat similar, too -- but ADW is a lot more customizable. There are also a healthy number of ADW themes from third party developers, which provide easy access to 'unique' and sexy home screens.
Right then! Roll up your pants, it's time to wade in.
ADW supports gestures, too. By default, swiping down expands the Notification Bar, meaning you no longer have to aim for that tiny sliver of grey at the top of the screen -- hooray! Swiping up hides the Notification Bar entirely. You can re-bind both swipes to other actions, if you like -- but for some reason, double tap isn't available with ADW; boo.
More options than you could ever possibly needUsually I would take screenshots of the config pages, so you can check out just how configurable an app is... but ADW would require about 10 screenshots -- so, suffice it to say, ADW is really customizable.
Of course, the problem with options and choices is that you have to choose the right one. How is a first-time user meant to know the best "Page Horizontal Margin", or how many milliseconds the "Zoom effect speed" should be? To be honest, ADW's mindbogglingly massive menu system scares me. It uses terms like "App Drawer", "Catalogs navigation", "Desktop overshoot" and "Action Buttons" -- and I could only begin to guess what one of those things is. Basically, to configure ADW, I had to resort to trial and error -- but when you don't know what to look for, it's hard to see the effects of a config change. Infuriating.
The crazy thing is, there isn't even a link to the documentation on the AppBrain site. Suitably irked, I headed to xda-developers (by far the best resource on the Web for Android-related issues, incidentally) to see if anyone else had had the same problem. Sure enough, there's a Complete Guide To ADW. If you're going to install ADW after this review, please read it.
Bloated conclusionAll in all, it's perhaps no surprise that ADW's burgeoning feature set make it a bit bloated. It feels slower than Zeam or the stock Android 2.1 launcher. It takes longer to appear after closing a program, and it's simply tiring to go through each of the many options to find out what they do. One of our commenters, Nyar, even noted that ADW has the tendency to hang for a few seconds on phones with slower processors.
Unless you are after ADW's extensive theme library, then, Zeam is the better option.